Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Issue #1 just hit comic book stores last week, I had no trouble at all finding it. BOOM! Studios is also starting a second Muppets comic book line, "Muppet Robin Hood" which will tell the tale of Sherwood Forest casting the Kermit and Co. in the various roles. BOOM! also plans on releasing new comic book series based on several Disney/Pixar films. In the near future you'll be able to find new books featuring friends from Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars and Wall-E. A preview copy of Cars will be available Saturday, May 2 at Free Comic Book Day, an event held at comic book stores nationwide.
I always enjoy seeing the Muppets in action, I'm also a big fan of non-fighting comic books, so it looks like there's lots of good stuff on the horizon from the folks at BOOM! Studios.
Free Comic Book Day
Monday, March 30, 2009
But I did say this DVD is a treat...also included on this disc one of my favorite Peanuts specials: the 1984 time capsule It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown. For those of you who don't remember (or know what I'm talking about) a few years after the very sexual film Flashdance was a hit at the box office, CBS aired this Charlie Brown and Snoopy take on the box office hit. It's totally dated, and kind of stands out from all the other Charlie Brown cartoons, but it's a good one! There's some really good songs in it. (In fact, somewhere around here I have the soundtrack on cassette tape!) There's even a breakdancing scene which of course features Franklin - the only black member of the Peanuts gang. When Snoopy takes the spotlight and performs a dance similar to the one in Flashdance, the film makers even went to the trouble of hiring and filming Marine Jahan, the dance double for Jennifer Beals, to use as reference footage while animating Snoopy. Flashbeagle is certainly an odd and off-beat choice to release so early on in the roll out of Peanuts titles, but I'll be glad to replace my beat up ol' VHS copy with a shinny new DVD.
I also found out that come July 7, Warner Bros. is putting out Peanuts 1960's Collection. This will be a 2-disc set that serves up the first six of the Charlie Brown specials, which happen to span the years 1965 - 1969. The shows included in this set are:
- A Charlie Brown Christmas
- Charlie' Brown's All-Stars
- It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
- You're In Love, Charlie Brown
- He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown
- It Was A Short Summer, Charlie Brown.
The first four of these cartoons have been released to DVD before, although they will feature better picture and sound than their initial digital releases. The last two listed are new to DVD, and two of the titles from the whole Peanuts library that I've been most looking forward to seeing again. Hopefully, the price of this set won't be too high to justify rebuying four of the shows.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
15) Cheeseburger In Paradise (founded in 2002, 38 locations in 17 states) is a partnership between Outback Steakhouse and Jimmy Buffet. We had one near us for a year and a half and then it just closed it's doors without any warning. We miss our Cheeseburger In Paradise! We loved the beachy atmosphere and the island inspired foods they serve. They have some of the best sliders in the biz, and they make a mean Cheeseburger in Paradise - served up just the way it's described in the classic song. After our local one closed, the next closest location is a little over an hour away but we're thinking about making a trip out there real soon!
14) Checker's (started in 1986, 815 locations in 28 states) I've gotten food poisoning from Checker's three times...you'd think I would have learned my lesson after the second time but you just can't separate me from Banana flavored milkshakes! They also make some really good greasy burgers and they have a few interesting odd items on their menu. You can't go wrong with a chain that has a sandwich called The Big Bufford. Plus, I'm a sucker for drive-in's.
13) Five Guys (also started in 1986, 300 East Coast locations and moving west) Fantastic burgers and well done french fries. I like this place's no-nonsense, straight forward approach. There's not alot of things on the menu, everything is fresh, and they've even added the nice touch of free peanuts while you wait. Well played Five Guys, well played!
12) Chick-fil-A (dates back to 1946, now has 700+ shops) I discovered Chick-fil-A late in life. There has been one in my hometown mall for at least 15, if not 20 years but I had never eaten there until maybe 8 or 9 years ago. Sometimes simple is better, as is the case here. Their chicken sandwich is a good piece of breaded chicken with nothing on it except a slice of pickle and a nice buttery bun. They have good waffle fries too. And they use chunk meat in their nuggets instead of the mystery meat in most other fast food places nuggets. Get some nuggets with Polynesian dipping sauce...that's tasty right there!
11) McDonald's (founded in 1940, worldwide they serve 58 million customers daily) For some of us, McDonald's is like crack. We know it's bad for us, but sometimes we just gotta have a fix. In my opinion, hands down the best fast food fries by a longshot! The Big Mac is an American classic for a reason...it's a perfect tasting sandwich. Plus, Mickey D's invented the Happy Meal - one of life's little pleasures.
10) Cheeburger, Cheeburger (started in 1986, 64 locations) First of all, how bad can you be if you name your place after a Saturday Night Live sketch!? The place is all about burgers, and they have some mighty big ones here. You can dress them up a hundred different ways, but I always like mine with just a dash of ketchup and mustard. They have a one-pound burger, if you eat they make a big deal, take your picture and put it on the Wall of Fame. I've never tried it because I've always found "big food items" to be kinda gross. They also have a huge milk shake menu which was totally awesome until they took the Peanut Butter and Jelly shake off. Like many other places on my list, Cheeburger recreates the feel of a 50's diner. Fun is important while you're slowly killing yourself.
9) Cracker Barrel (serving good people since 1969, they now have 581 kitchens in 41 states) Folks, Cracker Barrel is good eats. They've got a nice home cooked menu waiting for ya. I almost always get the Cracker Barrel Sampler which is a small slice of their fantastic meatloaf (only place I ever order meatloaf,) sugar cured ham, and chicken and dumplings. Mmmmm...that's good. You get three sides with your meal, and they have plenty of sides to choose from. Any place that serves up steak fries and baked apples is ok in my book. For dessert, they have a glass mug sundae topped with molasses that is out of this world. After your meal, you can shop in their country store. Some other chains try to incorporate retail into their experience, but the Cracker Barrel store is the best. I could easily spend $200 on their DVD racks, and picking up some pure cane sugar Candy Canes is a must!
8) Fuddruckers (started in 1980, 260 stores worldwide) Quite possibly my favorite of the chain burgers, I've always loved the way Fuddruckers does burgers. They have many different sizes and they have a really good topping bar. Even though I usually like my burgers with just ketchup and mustard, sometimes I'll top off my Fudd Burger with their fresh tasty toppings. They have really good fries, which you can get hot cheese sauce for at no additional charge, and I always throw in a order of baked beans too! Yummers!
7) Denny's (founded in 1953, now with 2,500 world wide locations) Denny's gets a bad rap from alot of people, but to me it's all good eats! Four words: Moons Over My Hammy! Good sandwiches, decent burgers, really good buffalo chicken strips and the best fountain soda in town! If it's late at night, and you've got an hour to kill waiting for your food - Denny's is always a good friend to have around.
6) Long John Silvers (been around since 1969, 1,200 shops across the globe) Mmmm...fish and chips! Ohhhh....hush puppies. Any fast food chain that serves up hush puppies can't be all that bad. Add in some chicken planks and clam strips...and you're good to go!
5) Steak n' Shake (dating back to 1934, only 502 U.S. locations) Yet another faux 50's dinner on my list. Good Eats! Chill Mac is one of life's great pleasures! Steak n' Shake serves up several different versions of this great dish. Their Steakburgers are fantastic and I'm always a fan of a joint with multiple side dishes. What meal isn't ten times better when paired with a baked bean crock?
4) Nathan's Famous (first opened in New York's Coney Island in 1916, there are now over 20,000 locations) You haven't had a hot dog until you've had a Nathan's hot dog. First, there's the snap when you bite into one. It's a sign that you're not just eating a regular ol' hot dog. Second, it's the taste inside. It tastes like real meat...not just a bland mixture of left over pig parts, it tastes like honest to goodness tasty meat. And Nathan's grills them just right! Oh, it's heaven I tell ya! Nathan's also serves up some good fries which are of the crinkle cut variety and they are served in a little container with a red fork. Usually, I'm a dip in the fry in the ketchup kind of guy, but at Nathan's I pour the ketchup all over the fries and use my trusty red fork to scoop up all the goodness.
3) Hooters (celebrating tacky since 1983, there are 435 Hooters restaurants in the United States) The people that say "Oh, you just go to Hooters to look at the girls" are the same idiots who give guys a hardtime about reading Playboy. "Sure you're reading it for the articles!" Well you know what, if you want to oogle woman there are much better places to do it than Hooters and Playboy! Hooters is all about the wings. In my opinion, the best darn wings money can buy. I love buffalo wings, I get them all the time and different places. But Hooters wings are on a whole different playing field. They are like candy! They are crunchy, sweet and ever so tasty. They come in a handful of different flavors but I like `em Hot. Their hot sauce is not too spicy that it burns out your taste buds, but it still gives you a little heat. Hooters also has some good fries that pair nice with their wings. They have curley fries and they are a must with an order of wings. I usually wash it all down with a big ol' glass of lemonade. Oh yeah...and the girls there are pretty hot too!
2) Waffle House (an American institution since 1955, 1,500 houses over 25 states) Good Eats! Just about everything here is cooked on a tiny little grill in an open kitchen. Everything I've ever had at Waffle House is incredible! They have fantastic quick burgers, great breakfast options, and they've got some hash browns that you can get covered with chili, ham, jalapenos and a handful of other options that are all just great! A nice cozy, friendly atmosphere - Waffle House may be scary on the outside but welcoming on the inside.
1) Sonic (founded in 1945, 3,400 drive-ins in 34 states) If we've learned one thing from this list it's that I have a thing for places that try to replicate the feel of the 1950's. Which is strange because I don't really have any connection to the 50's. But Sonic has always had a hold on me!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2000) I was flipping channels and came across this documentary near the beginning and ended up watching the whole thing. It's the story of Tammy Faye Bakker (later Tammy Faye Resner) who first came into the public eye with her husband Jim, as Christian televangelists. What made me stop and watch was the abundance of old early 80's television clips from their old PTL Network. I kept watching the movie because Jim and Tammy opened up a theme park in South Carolina and I'll eat up anything about amusement parks. (I visited the park in 1988.) The story of Jim and Tammy and the PTL Network was also fascinating because behind the scenes of the teleminsitry was a story about greed and the fight for control over a satellite. Back in the early 80's, PTL was only the 4th cable network to have a satellite in space. It's all a pretty interesting story. It was on the Logo Network...but that don't make me gay or nothing!
W. (2008) Here's the problem with Oliver Stone's docudrama about our 43rd president: If you're a fan of George Bush than you won't want to watch this movie filled with little facts and stories that the Republican party spent good money to keep secret, if you weren't a fan of George W. than you won't be too interested in rehashing any of that chapter in American history. What's left is a fairly boring, uneven look into the younger years of the man who "broke the world!" This movie was also a refresher course in "Why I Don't Watch Dramas".
Monday, March 23, 2009
The first building you visit on your tour of ZooAmerica is the Grassy Waters exhibit. It's a little frightening to find the barrier between you and a couple of American Alligators smashed and repaired with a cardboard box and some scotch tape. I can only imagine the window was damaged due to an angry alligator tail!
This is what my kids think of indoor animal exhibits.
This was pretty cool. This mammoth American Crocodile lives in a glass enclosure (right across from the crocodiles that tried to escape!) He was sitting right up against the glass and it was a pretty awesome experience being able to stand only inches away from this big guy. We even got a good look at his dental work.
My friend Andy and his son Silas got to help out with a live feeding demonstration.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
There's some more pictures from our day at our Flickr page which is also always accessible through the Magic Picture Frame in the sidebar column.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Swingers (1996) I had seen this independent film when it first came out on video 10+ years ago. I remember not thinking much of it, but gave it a second look late last night. Being 35 now, instead of 23-24, I appreciate and understand this movie alot more. There's not much of a story but there are quite a few well fleshed out characters that keep things interesting. I remember at the time this came out, it was considered pretty vulgar and edgy but it's all actually pretty low-key stuff. This, of course, was also the film that launched the career of Vince Vaughn. He's really good in it as well as Jon Favreau (who went on to direct Elf and Iron Man) and Ron Livingston (who later stared in another classic from this time, Office Space).
Friday, March 13, 2009
Here's my list of 10 Favorite High School Movies. For this list, I didn't just go with movies that I really like alot. Instead I tried to pick films that were not only fun and entertaining but also had a good high school vibe to them. (A great movie like Adventures in Babysitting is about high school aged kids but really has nothing to do with school.) And also let me explain up front that you won't find the three big John Hughes classics on my list. The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles are both fine films but I just don't have that connection with them that other folks my age have. Also, I've never seen Pretty in Pink which I know is a classic, and when you see some of the crap on my list - you'll wonder how something like Pretty In Pink has gone under my radar.
#10 Pump Up The Volume (1990) This is a little more angst filled than the rest of the list, but it's about a guy who starts a pirate radio station in his bedroom and plays underground music and talks about all the problems with his school. If I started a pirate radio station in high school I would have used it to play novelty records and do comedy sketches. Oh wait a minute...I was part of a pirate radio station in my high school years and we played bubble gum pop and tried to be like a morning zoo! Anywho...Christian Slater and Samantha Mathis are really good in this dark, but funny movie.
#9 National Lampoon's Senior Trip (1995) A group of misfit kids and their principal go on a field trip from their Ohio school to the White House to meet the president. Hilarity follows! Senior Trip doubles not only as a high school movie but also a "slob comedy" as they are called. I'm also a big fan of the slob comedy. Everytime I watch this movie I laugh really hard. It's just good natured fun and it makes you miss the days when you just got to hang out with friends all day for days on end. Not that these names mean anything to you but Matt Frewer and Valerie Mahaffey are awesome in this movies, as is Tommy Chong as Red the bus driver. I'm proud to say that my seven bucks were among the tiny three and half million this movie grossed in theatres.
#8 Some Kind of Wonderful (1987) You probably won't be surprised to hear that when I was younger I wasn't all that interested in watching any movie that was remotely serious. A friend of mine had watched this with his younger sister and said it was really good. I was pretty sure he was gay for liking a movie that didn't have explosions, burping, puppets, or half naked girls. Still, he lent me the tape and I watched it and was blown away by how good this semi-serious movie. At the time, it was probably the only movie I'd seen that had an actual story. It's a love triangle about a guy who wants to get with the most popular girl in school but his best friend who happens to be a girl is in love with him. It's got a great performance by Lea Thompson and a very early screen role for a one Mrs. Candice Cameron of Full House fame.
#7 Better Off Dead (1985) This is one funny movie! John Cusack (in his best role EVER) gets dumped by his girlfriend. He figures life isn't worth living without her and decides to end it all. It's not a grim as it sounds, it's actually one of the funniest pictures I've ever seen. It didn't make a splash at the box office but it's picked up quite a following on cable and video over the years. Seriously, if you like good comedy and haven't seen this gem - go find it and watch it!
#6 She's All That (1999) When it comes to high school movies one of the best plots you can have is "the bet". The bet always consists of the upper class of the school social ladder making a bet that will somehow embarrass or humiliate someone in the lower class of the school. Sometimes they try to transform a nerd into a super cool student, other times there are wagers made on virginity statuses. Either way, it's always fun for everyone involved. Here, Freddy Prince Jr. bets his friends that he can score with the one girl in school that won't pay an ounce of interest in him. You know how the whole thing turns out, but it's fun watching!
#5 Three O'Clock High (1987) This is a really good (kind of obscure) movie. In it, we follow a student through his daily routine of high school. However, on this particular day, things go wrong when he accidentally upsets the school bully and ends up having to face him off in a fight - after school - at 3 o'clock. Besides being a very creative and entertaining film, it really captures the word of mouth buildup and excitement of the high school community when it's possible there is going to be a fight after school. Really, really good movie...again, go check it out!
#1 Clueless (1995) From the same writer as Fast Times, this movie captures the spirit of the mid-90's high school experience. I love the colors in this movie and the pace and it's just a great movie filled with quotable lines, memorable scenes, and a great sense of humor. A classic, in my book, that I could watch again and again!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
When the Disney/MGM Studios Theme Park (now called Disney's Hollywood Studios) opened up in the Spring of 1989, one of the original attractions was a tour through an actual honest-to-goodness animation studio. Disney had opened up a Florida branch of their feature animation studio and after watching a brief film guests were able to walk through the studio and watch real people at work on real projects. Nowadays the attraction is a sad shell of it's former self as Disney closed up the actual studio years ago.
But, on my first visit that opening year I can very vividly remember standing there in the studio and watching a guy edit black and white pencil sketches of a rough draft of this Little Mermaid Happy Meal commercial. As a young film nerd, just getting to watch the actual process was a thrill and as a young Disney nerd I was already aware of how grand The Little Mermaid was to be to the animation world.
Everytime I visit the Animation attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios, I think about the time 15 year old me stood there for the better part of an hour and watched the 30 second piece of film come together. I've searched for it on YouTube several times and was glad to have found it just recently.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Forest of Fun will also include rides which, from the looks of artists renderings, will be elaborately themed with the characters of Sesame Street. There will be a log flume ride and a family roller coaster plus a mini-Freefall and a Rock-n-Tug ride. Of course there will be a gift shop where you can stock up on all sorts of Sesame Street goodies. A spot where you can get pictures with the gang from the Street will also be included. Busch Gardens is also putting together an experience where kids and grown up can have breakfast or lunch with Elmo and friends.
If you're saying to yourself, Isn't there already a Sesame Street amusement park in Pennsylvania somewhere? The answer is yes, however Sesame Place in Langhorn, PA is more of a water park than a traditional theme park although they have started to add some mechanical rides in the last couple of years. It should be interesting to see how Busch Gardens can run with the Sesame Street theme starting from scratch.
Monday, March 09, 2009
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008) I really wanted to see this in the theatre, but missed it. It was pretty good. It's one of those "up all night, running around the city getting into crazy adventures" kind of movies...sort of like Adventures in Babysitting, but not in the same league. Instead of focusing on the "adventures" there's a romance at the heart of this story. The love story was kind of tired but there were enough good one liners and some wacky minor characters to make this worth watching. Kat Dennings plays Norah - she's really good, she was also in The House Bunny. But this Michael Cera kid who plays Nick here but we all know him from Superbad and Juno, this kid is a one trick pony. I don't think he's all that funny he's just been in some funny movies. He plays "put upon" real well, and he uses quite a bit here...it's effective but I'm on to him! I don't think he'll be around much longer!
Sex Drive (2008) I'm such a deep movie goer, aren't I?! Here, I guy and his buddy drive half way across the county so he can score with a girl he met online. That pretty much sums it up. Along the way there's plenty of wacky misadventures, more outlandish and cliche' than Nick & Norah's. They steal a car, hang out with some Amish folk, end up in jail and learn a little something about themselves along the way! Awww! Not a terribly funny movie, but it's pretty quickly paced and there are a few laugh out loud moments including a really well done scene near the end of the picture that makes you realize how flat the first 80-or so minutes were. The DVD has an unrated version, which I couldn't tell what was too racy to make it into an R-rated cut, except maybe for a scene involving a well endowed Mexican talking donut.
Friday, March 06, 2009
- First, this needs to be a comedy. Basing a movie on a real estate game is a silly idea so you might as well make the movie silly. Plus, it will be easier to incorporate more of the game into a comedy movie. They are talking about incorporating the real life real estate situation into the movie...nobody wants to see that!
- Milburn Pennybags (the Monopoly guy) has to be a main character. He doesn't have to be the central character but he should play a major role in the film. He should be played by an old guy with a big white moustache and he should always be dressed in a tux, unless there is a scene at his his mansion at night in which case he should have pajamas with dollar signs all over them.
- Real Monopoly money should be used in the movie. The money is the backbone of the game, we want to see big colorful bills being used on the silver screen.
- There should be a strip joint in the movie called "Community Chest"
- There should be a good fight scene that takes place on Baltic Ave.
- The thimble and the dog must somehow be worked into the story.
- I suppose a tie-in with McDonald's is inevitable.
But wait...there's more! Monopoly isn't the only movie in the works based on something from the game isle at the toy store. They are also working on a big-budget cinematic version of CandyLand! And if that ain't enough for ya, will you line up to see the movie of Battleship? Two big name actors yelling out "C-9" and "G-2" for two and a half hours, it's coming. There is also a movie based on the Ouija board coming out. And if you think that's stretching it, as we speak Hollywood is in production of a Stretch Armstrong movie. Wow!
I guess when Transformers 2 and G.I. Joe makes millions of dollars at the box office this summer, film makers will be combing the isles of Toys R Us again for the next big summer blockbuster.
Speaking of Monopoly, check out my visit to the world's largest Monopoly board.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Fired Up! (2009) Bob howdy, I love movies about cheerleaders! They are almost always silly and the short skirts don't hurt either. Fired Up! is what they call a "high concept" picture. Two high school football players get the wacky idea to skip football camp and spend two weeks at cheerleader camp with 300 girls. They go from scoring on the field...to scoring with the girls! Get it!? Yes, the boys are only at cheerleader camp to get close with the girls and hook up with them. Most people going to see this movie are probably expecting a raunchy sex romp a la' American Pie, but Fired Up! is actually pretty tame in the steam department. The boys talk about hooking up with girls and all we ever see is some making out. There's very little sex talk and just about no nudity...ok, there's a couple of male butts!
When you're doing a picture like this, ya gotta have laughs. As far as storylines go, we've seen all this a million times. The boys trick the girls to get into cheerleader camp, then they find out they are really part of the team and they want to help the girls win the big cheerleading competition at the end. Fired Up! sets itself apart from the recent crowd with a very script. The idea of guys trying to land chicks at a cheerleader camp is not the joke here. Nor are there a bunch of wacky practical jokes here that are supposed to make us laugh. There's a good script with lots of funny one liners and odd characters that add more laughter to the proceedings. I found myself laughing out loud and hard at several occasions. When you go to see a movie like this, you're not expecting Shakespeare but you should be expecting to laugh. If you allow yourself to be won over, Fired Up! delivers. You could say it will cheer you up. Cheer...get it!?